Today my sweet son is 2 years old. It absolutely blows my mind that I have a two-year old. Growing up, that was what I wanted more than anything – to be a wife and a mommy. I became a wife fairly quickly and at a “young” age. I say that, because it’s only young in the eyes of today’s society. I was 20 years old when I got married. According to the Amish life, I was almost old! 😉 Anyway, when we got married, I figured we would be pregnant within 2 years. My husband wanted the more conservative route of 5 years. So we compromised and had Z shortly after our 9 year anniversary. 🙂 Life’s circumstances showed up and that’s why we waited so long. If you read my post on Friday (read it here – I talk all about our marriage and the juicy details), then you’ll understand why we waited. You’ll also understand when I say that I am so thankful we waited to bring a child into our marriage until the time that we did. The Lord worked it all out perfectly, as He’s known to do.
Ok, now on to the fun stuff – my pregnancy and labor story. I got pregnant late December (Christmas Day to be exact, hehe…) of 2012. We had the first ultrasound at the end of January 2013. When we first saw our little lima-bean looking baby, I couldn’t stop the tears and I had the biggest smile on my face. His heartbeat was already detectable and I just couldn’t believe it – there was the absolute visual proof – I was pregnant!!!!
I announced it in early February of 2013. I had an amazing pregnancy. As I was a runner before I got pregnant, the doctor ok’d me to continue running as long as I listened to my body. Because I was running regularly, I was also careful to stay hydrated. My husband and I have always been careful to make sure we drink at least 80 -120 ounces of water a day, even before I was pregnant, so staying hydrated wasn’t an issue. The issue was going to the bathroom every 5 minutes (or so it seemed), but even that wasn’t a problem for me because I was just so overjoyed that I was pregnant! I was also diligent to continue applying lotion daily, as soon as I got out of the shower, and I never had a single stretch mark. I was careful with what I ate but careful in the sense that I ate for one person, not two. I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to what I was not supposed to eat. I ate cheese and fish and deli meat. Basically? I figured if it didn’t hurt my mom and her 4 pregnancies, or my grandmothers and all their pregnancies..not to mention my 25 aunts and all their pregnancies? Then it would be OK for me – I would trust my instinct. Yes, I was going old school. I was going to trust my God-given instinct over what “they” say you should and shouldn’t do.
We found out, at 18 weeks, that we were having a boy. I remember, laying there, seeing the ultrasound and I saw it just before the tech announced we were having a boy. I saw for myself how proud my son was of what the Lord had given him. I remember tearing up and couldn’t stop smiling. I had felt, for quite a while, that we were having a boy. For some reason, whenever my husband and I had discussed children, we had just always assumed our first would be a girl. I don’t know why, but we had. So for us to both feel he would be a boy, early on in the pregnancy, was surprising. I’ll never forget that moment though, when we found out he was a boy.
My husband was just as excited about our son as I was. He was happy to help with the baby registry and set up the nursery. We had the crib and dresser (bought separately through Craigslist, but matching!) by the time I was 12 weeks. We had the room painted shortly after we found out we were having a boy. Being that I am a “don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today” kind of person, I was all about getting as much set up as possible before the end of my pregnancy, when I knew I would be nesting and anxious. I didn’t want to add stress about not having the baby’s room set up. 🙂
We planned our last “single” vacation for the end of June 2013 and went to Norfolk, VA. I was 29 weeks pregnant at the time. We stayed with my husband’s sister and her family. They were staying on base there (my brother-in-law is in the military) for the summer and invited us to stay with them for the week. We chose to drive, as we have a dog and my husband’s parents offered to watch her while we were gone. So we drove to Ohio, dropped our dog off and continued to Norfolk. Because of the drive, I chose to not drink as much water as normal, because I wanted to get there as soon as possible and couldn’t be bothered to stop more than necessary to pee. Not that smart when you’re supposed to stop and stretch when pregnant anyway AND stay hydrated. We got to Norfolk on a Sunday afternoon. We were so happy to see my sister-in-law and her family. We don’t get to see them but a few times a year. That night, I had some “fluid discharge” in the middle of the night. The next morning my husband and I went for a morning run with our niece and nephew while we passed the time until my OB’s office would open. I called my OB in Michigan and he requested that I go to a local Urgent Care just to ensure everything was ok. He wasn’t too concerned as I hadn’t had any cramping or bloody discharge. So we set off to find an Urgent Care. Turns out no Urgent Care (at least not in that area) will even look at a pregnant lady. They will send you straight to a hospital, where the ER won’t even see you, but send you straight up to the maternity ward. They immediately hooked me up to monitors and scared the bejeebies out of me by telling me that I was contracting regularly and with quite a bit of “oompf”. I was floored. I wasn’t feeling a thing! I told them such and they said that I was also dehydrated (not surprising because of the weekend traveling and limiting my water). They were concerned about pre-term labor and wanted me to have an IV to hydrate me. Now, here’s the thing – I don’t like needles. So I begged them to allow me to drink water. I promised them I would drink as much as they wanted and as fast as possible. They advised against it, but said they would allow me to try it my way. So they gave me a large pitcher of water and away I went – drinking that water like my life depended on it. Three pitchers later (and some wooziness from drinking so quickly), the contractions were still there, according to the monitor (I was still not feeling a single one). So they insisted on putting in an IV. I advised them that I needed to be flat for this, as I can’t handle needles. I don’t remember what exactly happened, but for some reason they didn’t recline me. I do remember that the nurse was very abrupt and didn’t have the best bedside manner. She was giving me worst case scenarios (“It would appear you’re going to have your baby here.” and “You could have your baby within the next 24 hours!” or “Your baby will be so premature that there’s no telling how long he’ll be in NICU and with you being so far from home….” Yeah, she was not helping me relax at all. I honestly thought my husband was going to do something he’s never done – hit a woman) and then couldn’t understand why I kept insisting that the Lord had control. “Well, honey, looks like He isn’t helping!” Anyway, so she didn’t recline me and started the IV – I felt it coming and just looked at my husband and motioned to my mouth. He looked around for the puke bin, but wasn’t able to get to it in time for the first round. I sweetly turned away from him and in the direction of the nurse and tried not to do too much damage while I waited for my husband to grab the puke bin. As soon as he placed the bin in front of me, I aimed for that instead. But I have to admit, the fleshly side of me wasn’t sorry for getting some watery upchuck on that nurse. She was not nice. Maybe that was the Lord’s way of revenge? Who would I have been to stand in His way and ruin my gown and require a sponge bath? Anyway, they ran some lab work and determined I was not at risk to go into labor at that time. The contractions did slow down after two bags of fluids. The doctor came in, examined me and she was practically laughing about them talking about admitting me. She said she was positive the contractions were showing up because I was dehydrated. She said the reason I wasn’t feeling them was beyond her, but that she was even more convinced I was fine because I wasn’t feeling them. She sent me on my way just asking that I take it easy that week (aka, no more running and stay super hydrated) and see my doc as soon as we got back to Michigan. I was, of course, super cautious all week and if I didn’t feel the baby moving I would freak out, but then he’d move and I’d sigh in relief. We ended up having a great week and enjoyed our time thoroughly!
We made the drive home and this time I stayed hydrated and we broke the trip up even more. We stopped at my sister-in-law’s home in Annapolis. So we did 3 hours the first day (stopping for the night), 5 hours the second (stopping in Ohio to get our dog and staying the night), and then another 3 hours to Michigan.
When we got to Michigan, I went to my doctor, who hooked me up to a machine to see if I was contracting. Sure enough, I was. Sigh…I still was not feeling a single contraction. They couldn’t figure it out. But he was upset that the hospital in Virginia never admitted me (secretly, I wasn’t. I really didn’t want to be in a different state, with different doctors, while on VACATION and stuck in a hospital…). Because I was only at 30 weeks, he sent me straight to a local hospital, refusing to allow me to go home for clothes. I was admitted and stayed for 4 days. They did tests and gave our son steroids for his lungs. Their diagnosis was that he wouldn’t make it to the 40 week mark and wanted to make sure his lungs would be as healthy and mature as possible. They were able to stop the contractions (which I never felt – so frustrating!) and through it all our son never showed any distress. His heart rate was always amazing. He was super active throughout the pregnancy and that didn’t change the entire time I was in the hospital. The nurses talked about it. They had to constantly move the fetal monitor on my stomach because he just didn’t hold still. I think he was showing them he didn’t like being there any more than his mommy did. 😉 They did an ultrasound on the morning of the 4th day and saw that he was growing perfectly. The doctor on call made the decision that they would release me and just put me on limited bed rest. I was so relieved. I went home, with a follow-up appointment for my OB in a few days made, and about kissed the ground.
I was given the ok to go back to work at the follow-up appointment. Good thing too, because I needed to be busy! I was just told to stay hydrated and not run. I was give the go-ahead to walk, but listen to my body. The rest of my pregnancy went by without any incidents. My sister-in-law (the one we stayed with in Norfolk) and her family came up over Labor Day. We had asked her to be there for the birth of our son, asking her to be in the room with my husband and I – to be an extra set of hands and support. So she stayed with us, with the plan to stay until he was born. We all figured he would be early..nope.
I went to my 39 week appointment and was 100% effaced and 3 cm dilated. The doctor was surprised that our son was still “cooking”. We all thought, for sure, that he would have been born by then. The doctor advised I not work anymore, because I could go into labor at any moment.
40 week appointment came and went – still no baby..
I went in for my last appointment at 40 weeks and 3 days on September 20, 2013. It was a 1:30 pm appointment. My husband was with me. The doctor that was there insisted I schedule myself for an induction the following Monday (this was a Friday). I scheduled it, really bummed, because I wanted to do a natural birth and I knew, from all I read, that an induction was really difficult to do naturally.
My husband and I had been doing Date Night on Fridays for over a year at this point and so we went for our normal date night, just a little early, right after the appointment. We went to a local little town and walked around. I had my first real contraction at 2 pm. I wanted to be hopeful, but knew that it could just be the same Braxton Hicks I’d been feeling for a few weeks now. We went to an early dinner and I was really feeling them. They were harder than they’d ever been. I made the poor choice of ordering chicken fingers and french fries – fried food. I made it about halfway through my meal when I had to hit the restroom. Ok, has anyone else ever tried to use their abs to puke while their abs are trying to have a contraction? Oh.My.Word. It’s so incredibly hard. I almost wanted to laugh, but I couldn’t because that’s another activity that requires use of your ab muscles. I went back out to my husband and told him I thought this was it. We headed back home and let my sister-in-law know we were timing the contractions and we thought this might be it. I was still having steady (but not super close) contractions by the children’s bedtime (her children were here with us), so she sent them to bed, but gave my husband’s brother (the only relative we have who lives close to us) a heads up that we might need someone to help with them.
At about 12:30 am on September 21, 2013, I called the after-service number for my OB’s office and gave them all the info. The doctor on call called me back and said I should head on in to the hospital and she’d see me there. So we all packed up and headed to the hospital. We got there around 1 am and it felt like it took forever to get checked in and get to the room. I was dilated 4 cm. FOUR!!!! I’d been in labor for almost 12 hours, at this point. I wasn’t feeling very encouraged. But I knew I could do this. My body was made to do this. So I hung in there. My sister-in-law was amazing and a tremendous support. My husband was there (despite the fact that he thought this wasn’t the real thing and he had taken a sleeping pill earlier….so he was trying to fight that and it wasn’t easy) and every time I had a super hard contraction and just needed his hand, there it was. When I couldn’t seem to focus anymore, I turned to my music – of course, Praise & Worship. That centers me every time.
I finally got to 7 cm around 8am (both of our parents had made it to the hospital from out-of-town at this point). By this time I was just so physically exhausted. I had done it all, naturally, up to this point. My body was fatigued, however. It’d been 18 hours of labor and over 24 hours without sleep. The last meal I had wasn’t really a meal and hadn’t stayed down. I started crying and told my husband I needed something local just to ease the pain. I somehow thought he’d think less of me if I didn’t do this naturally the whole way. My husband was so amazing and sweetly encouraged me. He said that he would support me, no matter what I chose and if my body needed a rest, then I absolutely needed to get some relief. They gave me a local pain reliever and it helped give me some relief.
I just kept chugging along. I wanted to be strong, but it was so hard at that point. My parents said that my labor was exactly like all 4 of my mom’s. She would labor and labor and just stick at 7 cm for hours on end. My dad said watching me was like watching mom all over again and it was hard on him. My husband said that watching me in labor was the hardest thing he’d done, to date. To know there was nothing he could physically do to remove or lessen the pain was so difficult. But he did something that helped tremendously – he prayed with me. And my wonderful sister-in-law caught the moment on camera!
Around 4:30 pm (I think, anyway – the exact time is a little fuzzy for me), the doctor came in to talk with me. She said I just wasn’t progressing. She said Z was still doing fine and even though they had broken my water (I can’t remember what time they did this) to try to get things going, nothing was working. She wanted to give me Pitocin to see if that would speed things up. I felt the need to have an epidural if she gave me Pitocin.
Now here’s the thing – I have ALWAYS been against an epidural. I strongly dislike needles and so that’s why I didn’t want the epidural. But for some reason, I felt the need to request the epidural. They came in, gave me the epidural, and shortly after, gave my first dose of Pitocin. Within seconds, it felt like a swarm, literally a SWARM of doctors and nurses were in my room. They stopped the Pitocin and I was being placed on my side with oxygen. Someone was blocking my view of the machine monitoring my contractions and Z’s heart rate. The room calmed down and the doctor calmly explained that Z was doing great right now, but that as soon as they administered the Pitocin, his heart rate had dropped. So Pitocin was off the table completely. She advised a c-section and advised it soon. At this point, my only thought was “C-section? Ok, so I’ll have this baby within 30 minutes? Perfect”. So I said “I don’t care. I just want my baby”. I believe I half-cried, half spoke this. Now, here’s where the epidural comes in – had I not had the epidural already in place, they would have had to do a spinal block on me for the c-section. But because I followed, what I fully believe to be the Holy Spirit’s prompting and got the epidural? I was whisked off to the OR with no waiting.
I had an amazing team while I was in there. I remember being FREEZING cold. I was shivering and thought for sure they would cut my stomach to smithereens because of how much I was shivering. The anesthesiologist was amazing and he stayed with me the whole time, up by my head, from the moment they wheeled me from my room to the moment they wheeled me back (this could be standard protocol, and if so – it worked wonders to keep me calm. Mainly because he was very soothing and knew how to keep the conversation flowing and light). He saw how cold I was and he retrieved warm sheets and placed them on top of my arms and my chest. He even wrapped one around my head. When those cooled down, he would switch them for warm ones. He did this the entire time I was in the OR. He kept talking to my husband and I, asking about the name we had picked out and other nonsense. All to keep us calm. I remember having been exhausted and barely able to keep my eyes open before this, but the second we got to the OR, I was awake. I was not just awake, I remember being giddy with excitement. I knew that it was only a matter of minutes before our son would be in the world. The whole team in there was in a great mood and chatting amongst each other and with my husband and I. I was ecstatic. I heard a baby cry and wondered about that mom – how excited she must be to be holding her baby. I heard my husband say something, but didn’t focus because I was too busy, with my imagination, and wondering what it would be like to hear our son cry for the first time. Then my husband nudged me and said “Babe, you hear that? That’s our boy!” Oh goodness, I tear up now, just remembering. That baby I heard was ours! He had a healthy set of lungs. I said “that’s him?” and my husband said “that’s him, you did it!” I started crying and laughing at the same time. I think I said, several times, “I want to see him!”
They wiped him and my husband cut the umbilical cord (again, the team was amazing – they took all the pictures for us) and brought him up to me. I remember kissing him and he was crying. I began to sing the first song that came to mind, Amazing Grace. Z calmed down immediately and stopped crying. For me? It was like the whole world stopped in that moment. It was just my husband, our son and myself. I know they were busy doing whatever needs done after you bring a baby into the world via c-section, but all that I saw was that beautiful face. My husband kissed me, I kissed Z and they headed back to the room ahead of me. They had some quality daddy/son time while I stayed back and made some fun jokes with the team while they sutured me up.
They wheeled me back to the room where my husband and son were waiting. We celebrated being a family – the three of us, alone for a few before the family members all came back to greet the newest addition. As I held my son for the first time, it was absolutely beyond description. I had newfound respect and love for my parents. I had newfound love for God (how can you send your Son to die for others?). I reveled in the fact that the desires of my heart had come true – I was a wife and now I was a mommy.
The hard part was recovery, of course. A c-section is not easy to recover from. I will say, however, my team was amazing. You can barely see the scar. I was up and walking (gingerly) the next morning. We were released Monday morning and headed home to introduce Z to the dog. She has been amazing with him. She largely ignores him, unless he has food. 😉 I did recover much faster that I thought I would, from the c-section. I have a “determined” type of personality and it showed in the days and weeks after the birth of my son. I’ll have to write a whole different post on my struggles with breastfeeding and the adjustment to motherhood. 🙂
All this being said? I absolutely loved being pregnant – I understand that many women are not so lucky and they do not enjoy pregnancy at all. I did, however. I loved every moment. Was I anxious, at the end? Yes, I just wanted to hold my son. I wasn’t irritated with being pregnant – I just wanted to hold my son!! Was labor long and hard for me? Yes. Did it go the way I had “planned”? Nope. But I have no regrets or sadness about how it ended. I feel the Lord had the entire labor in His hands and in the end, I held our sweet son in my arms. I don’t care how he was brought into this world – the Lord brought him to us and that’s all that matters to me. Would I do it all again? Yes, in a heartbeat – all 27.5 hours of labor. YES. I would do it all – every last second.
Being a mommy has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. Our son has always been animated, daring, cuddly and loving. He aims to please and is quick to apologize when he wrongs you. He has a temper, but is quick to calm down. He has a heart that loves to love. He is a reader, like his mommy. He loves sports, any sport, like his daddy. He has an active imagination and loves to be outside. He loves to do whatever his daddy does – from “working” on the laptop to simple things, like stretching or scratching his belly. Always mimicking daddy. He remembers everything. He loves church and asks to go almost daily (what joy that brings to this mommy’s heart!). He loves music. His smile – oh that smile!!! He’s so quick to smile and laugh – I pray he never loses that. He’s a treasure to us. He’s a blessing from the Lord and we make sure we tell him that. We pray for him and with him. We know that we, as his parents, need to do our best to raise him up to serve the Lord. He will see us and our walk so we need to set the example. We’re not responsible for what he does when he’s grown, but we want to ensure we do everything we can, while he’s young, to show him that all the ways of the Lord are good.
1 Samuel 1:27-28
“27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”